Jan 27, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Corey Isenor
Smaller Hearts is the synth pop project of Halfix-based musicians Kristina Parlee and Ron Bates. After first getting their start and indie rock, the pair forced themselves out of their comfort zones with Smaller Hearts, enforcing a strict no-guitars policy on their first three records. The band released Attention in 2021, the last of that trio of records, and have spent intervening years quietly tweaking their formula, once again incorporating guitars and indie-tinged aesthetics back into their sound.
Today, the band are back, debuting their first single in two years with their new track, “Sleeper Agent,” premiering with Under the Radar.
Though “Sleeper Agent” sees the band rekindling their love affair with rock guitars, the focus remains on their expansive range of synth textures and the pair’s honeyed vocal melodies. Droning beds of synths, earworm guitar passages, and dry electronic percussion all overlap to dizzying effect, crafting an inviting synth pop daydream clouded with a melancholic haze. It’s a fittingly dreamy sound for a track that is all about the ways people try to escape reality, moving through life in a sedated lull until something awakens them.
“The title ‘Sleeper Agent’ doesn’t appear in the lyrics,” explains Bates, “but it metaphorically can stand for the song: our agency in deciding what parts of life to engage in versus what parts to tune out; and the change that can happen if a person who’s sleeping through their life becomes activated and wakes up.”
Check out the song and video below, out everywhere now.